It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I don’t know about you, but sometimes the days blend together so quickly that I can hardly believe weeks, or even months, have actually passed while I’ve kept moving forward as best I can. I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey lately – how far I’ve come since this time last year, and the year prior – and how my journey might have changed if I had made different decisions during moments that are clearly pivotal in the rearview…
I’ve also been thinking about fate and how much control I have over the events in my life. It’s an interesting balance, taking responsibility for my own decisions while simultaneously believing that what is meant for me cannot pass me by…Because I do truly believe I must own my choices, my decisions, my mistakes and my successes, I am also actively trying to co-create the things I am manifesting, but…to what extent does the Universe, Source, God, Spirit have a hand in the path I’m on? And in what ways have I been used as a tool to aid others? Were those moments always under my control? I believe so…and yet, there have definitely been moments where words come to me, just the right words my friends have needed to hear, and can I fully take credit for knowing the right thing to say? In those moments where it feels like something else is speaking through me? In those moments where I see the impact I’m making on someone else? It’s easy to believe that the “good” I’ve done may be somehow guided by a force wiser, stronger, better than myself…but if I own my mistakes, shouldn’t I also own all my other words and actions? To what extent does credit lie within or outside of me? It’s an interesting thing to ponder and I’m not sure I have an answer yet – honestly, I’m not sure if an answer exists. I think it may be one of those things that exists on a spectrum that ebbs and flows given the situation…I’ll have to keep noodling on that one.
In thinking about how my words have helped others from time to time, I have also found myself dwelling on the moments when I know my words or actions have caused pain. In looking back, it is so easy to see where a better decision could have been made, and yet don’t we all make the best decision we can in each moment? I can only offer my apologies and do what I can to make things right, and promise to do better moving forward. Because aren’t I convinced that others who have harmed me feel the same way? Maybe I can’t say I know it for certain, but I do sincerely hope and choose to believe the no one has gone out of their way to deliberately make my life’s journey more difficult…and even if they did, how can I not forgive them, knowing where I’m at now, who I am now, has been shaped by all my experiences, good, neutral, and negative? Don’t I get to choose the impact events have on me and my current happiness, my current confidence, my sense of self? Of course, right? I can choose to offer forgiveness, I can choose how much space in my story I give to the events that have shaped me as I continue to move forward. And so I choose to believe that everything in my life, good, bad, and neutral, has held a lesson that has helped me find my own strength, helped me find my own voice, and helped me return to the version of myself that I like the best – the silly, easily amused, happy-go-lucky, contemplative, complicated self that I know is the true “me”.
I know these thoughts have been coming up more recently as we approach the anniversaries of two pivotal moments that occurred in my life last year. The first, and the clearly positive one, is the speech RM of BTS gave at the UN last year (transcript | video). His message resonated with me so deeply and really helped cement my own journey of self-love over the past year. I’ve returned to the following quote over and over again, because it rings so true for me: “Like most people, I made many mistakes in my life. I have many faults and I have many fears, but I am going to embrace myself as hard as I can, and I’m starting to love myself, little by little.” Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do? Find a way to accept our past selves, present selves, and future selves? Find a way to believe it is possible to be our best self (and further, that we already are because “best” can be redefined over and over and over as we grow)? I believe so, I choose to believe so.
For me, learning to embrace myself has meant taking time to review my life and identify those faults and fears, those mistakes, and face them head on, sit with the feelings they bring up, and find a way to make peace with them. It’s not an easy process – it’s one that is painful, embarrassing, and cathartic by turns, and it isn’t something that happens once and is done. It’s…well, it’s like facing moments of grief in a way. These memories resurface as regret when I least expect it, and I’ve been learning to pause and think about why I’m feeling regret, if I could have done anything differently at the time, if there’s anything I can do now to make things better, and what I can do in the future to avoid having the same regrets. It’s not easy – but it is absolutely worthwhile. And as with grief, I’m aware that the events never impact just me, but ripple out to everyone else involved…and then onward out from them based on how each person views and internalizes the same event.
I’ve become almost painfully aware of how much a single action can cause ripples not just in my own life, but outward far past what I can see. I’ve been thinking about the moments when someone’s comments or actions have changed my worldview, how I see myself, how I see others…I’ve been thinking about the boy who approached me at graduation and told me I made his high school experience better because I was “one of the handful of people who were nice to [him]” – and how shocked I was because I hadn’t done anything special?! I’d just chatted with him when we had classes and events together, very casually, said hi when we passed one another, smiled at him as I smiled at everyone else…and yet for him, I clearly made an impact. And through his comment, he in turn impacted me – and I have found myself trying to smile more and offer compliments and greetings to strangers, acquaintances, and friends alike whenever I can (the period of extreme social anxiety and inability to leave the house last summer counts as an outlier, okay? Okay). And I have hoped, time and again, that such small actions can cause a ripple of kindness, gratitude, and joy outward even in small ways – because if I could have such an impact by being myself, then surely the least I can do is try to continue to spread a little kindness where I can? Because even if it only brightens that person’s day for a moment, it is worth it, right? Because those little moments of kindness I’ve received have sometimes been brief blips in my life’s story, barely a sentence, but others have taken up paragraphs and chapters and run as footnotes throughout the pages I’m actively writing today.
But mostly, I’ve been thinking about how I want the footnotes that continue to run through the pages of my life to serve as sources of strength and not regret…but that’s not always the case, because I know that grief journeys never truly end, right? I’m reminded of this video I first saw at the beginning of September last year – gosh, I didn’t know how timely it would be, but I’ll get back to that in a bit. The people we’ve lost still continue to impact us, and sometimes it is easier to acknowledge the pain of the loss rather than attempting to find some lesson from it, sometimes it is easier to allow the passage of time to bury the grief as best it can rather than facing it head on. And of course, I’m not ever going to say that YOU have to find a lesson from your own moments of grief, okay? I’m just saying that’s my approach lately.
It has seemed like the only possible way to handle that second pivotal moment from last autumn – the suicide of my colleague. I know I discussed it in this post, but as the year anniversary approaches, I find I’m still working on processing it. Why was I able to keep moving forward when he wasn’t? Is there anything I could have done? If I had known his struggles, would that have changed my own? Would we have had a different working relationship? Would we have been able to bond over our common struggle and help each other to both make it to this place of clarity and happiness? I can’t say that losing him made me realize that my own depression could have had as much of an impact on those around me if I had taken action to harm myself – I was always aware that it would hurt those left behind if I didn’t keep choosing to stay. The danger, for me, was in the visceral belief that I was a burden to everyone around me and that the pain of losing me might be heavily outweighed by the relief of no longer shouldering the burden of my existence. That was the thought I had to fight, the belief I had to break…and I can’t help wondering if his thought was the same? And if I could have done anything to help him no longer feel that way? So while I can’t say that losing him opened my eyes to the damage I would do to those around me if past-me had lost the battle with depression, I can say that losing him has made me ever more conscious of the people around me and how my words and actions can impact them for the worse or for the better. Because I know he has left an impact on me that will continue to ripple throughout the course of my life story…but, in knowing him, I choose to believe he would be nothing short of encouraging in taking what lessons I can from the similarities and differences in our paths. And knowing him, I know he would want me to continue sharing my own story and doing what I can to maybe, just maybe, keep spreading more positive ripples than negative ones. That maybe, just maybe, I can help more often than I harm, that somehow by sharing this, it will leave a positive mark on the pages of someone else’s story. That’s all I can hope for, right?
…I’ll end here. Thanks for reading, my friend. Please know I believe the world is brighter with you in it; I believe you are leaving positive marks on those around you – let’s keep trying to do that together, okay? Maybe, with each small act of kindness, even something as small as a smile, we can make the world better, little by little, one moment at a time…